Japan battery maker shares fall after Boeing 787 fire

TOKYO Tue Jan 8, 2013 9:53pm EST

TOKYO Jan 9 (Reuters) - Shares of Japan's GS Yuasa Corp , which makes batteries for Boeing Co's new 787 Dreamliner, fell sharply for a second day on Wednesday after a fire aboard a Japan Airlines aircraft earlier this week.

"The batteries were made by our company," a GS Yuasa spokesman told Reuters, adding that the cause of the fire was unclear, and whether or not the fire was sparked by the GS Yuasa-made batteries had not been determined.

"We are ready to send our crew for investigation when we get more details from the authorities," he said. The company said it provides auxiliary power unit batteries for the Dreamliner.

On Monday, an electrical fire erupted on one of Boeing's 787 Dreamliners operated by Japan Airlines at Boston's Logan International airport. Authorities said a battery in the auxiliary power unit aboard the plane jet had suffered "severe fire damage".

In a second mishap a day later at the same airport, a fuel leak forced a different 787 operated by Japan Airlines to cancel takeoff at the Boston airport. The two incidents have extended a series of problems that have dogged the jet for more than a month and notched up concern about the plane.

Shares in GS Yuasa, Japan's top producer of traditional lead acid auto batteries with a 35 percent chunk of the domestic market, fell as much as 5.1 percent to 318 yen, after falling 4 percent on Tuesday.

Analysts said the impact on earnings was seen as limited at present, as the company's industrial battery business only accounts for 1 percent of group sales.

"We think this incident is unlikely to have any major impact on earnings at GS Yuasa at this point because industrial application LiBs (lithium-ion batteries) make only a modest earnings contribution," Citigroup analyst Tsubasa Sasaki said in a note.

"However, industrial LiBs are one of the company's growth areas and we think earnings could be negatively affected to some degree if it turns out that its batteries did trigger the fire."

GS Yuasa's products range from lead acid batteries for auto and motorbike uses to industrial lithium-ion batteries.

Japan Airlines said six of its seven Boeing 787 aircraft are operating in Japan, while one remains at Boston Logan. Japan's transport ministry ordered inspections of batteries in the auxiliary power unit. JAL inspected six of the units and found no problems.